Discover Cumbria without the car this autumn, and opt for a more sustainable way to travel. With excellent rail links through to the heart of the Lake District, and an extensive bus network to transport you around the region, it may be easier than you think to go car free.

As we all work to reduce our carbon footprint, why not embrace sustainable transport options on your trip to the Lake District, Cumbria this autumn? To help inspire you, we’ve put together a car-free guide to help you experience the area to its fullest.

Getting Here

Avanti West Coast

There are excellent main line rail links right through the heart of the Lake District, Cumbria with Avanti West Coast. With direct services available to stations including 'Oxenholme Lake District'; 'Penrith, North Lakes' and the historic city of Carlisle, getting here is easy.

Plus, it may be quicker than you think! From London Euston, it’s just 2.5h to 'Oxenholme Lake District' on a direct train; from Birmingham, it’s less than 2.5h. To 'Penrith, North Lakes' it’s less than 1.5h from Glasglow; while to Carlisle it’s less than 1h15m.

Stagecoach bus

Once you’re here, Stagecoach bus services are available across the county, stopping at some simply stunning locations. Read on to get inspired for your car free break in the Lakes.

See and Do

1. Immerse yourself in our Autumn colours

From ‘Oxenholme Lake District’, hop on the Lakes Line to Windermere and connect with the Stagecoach 555 bus service to travel through to Keswick. The route takes you through the heart of the Lake District – the perfect way to see autumn colours in all their glory as you travel past lakes, woodland and mountains.

Rydal autumn 2023

2. Explore world-class cultural attractions

Whether you want to learn more about our literary figures, or you’re interested in the history of England’s longest lake, we’ve got an attraction for you. In Bowness on Windermere, visit the Windermere Jetty Museum; the World of Beatrix Potter; or Blackwell – The Arts & Crafts House, before hopping on board with Windermere Lake Cruises to see the area from the water. Bowness can be reached thanks to several bus services from Windermere train station.

In the north Lakes, bus services connect ‘Penrith, North Lakes’ to towns like Keswick – home to The Pencil Museum and nearby Lakes Distillery. Carlisle, Cumbria’s only city, is home to cultural attractions like Carlisle Castle, Carlisle Cathedral, and Tullie House Museum & Art Gallery.

Carlisle Cathedral

3. Find Artistic Inspiration

The landscapes of the Lake District, Cumbria have inspired writers and artists for generations. Discover their work, and experience the places that inspired them. Abbot Hall art gallery in Kendal has an outstanding permanent collection, and plays host to temporary exhibitions too. In Rydal and Grasmere, both along the 555 bus route, you’ll find several locations with connections to William Wordsworth. These include Rydal Mount, Wordsworth Grasmere, and Allan Bank.

In the north Lakes, visit Wordsworth House in Cockermouth (accessible by bus from Penrith, North Lakes train station).

Rydal Mount

4. Discover our Food & Drink

The Lake District is a must for food lovers, with a fantastic variety of locally made food and drink; and plenty of great places to eat. Whether it’s a Michelin starred meal, afternoon tea with a view, or dinner in a cosy country pub, many are located along bus routes and near train stations across the county.

For delicious local produce, you’ll find shops, delis and supermarkets stocked with everything from gingerbread to beer; Cumberland sausage to locally made cheeses. Booths have supermarkets in easily accessible towns, including one at Windermere train station.

The Old Stamp House

5. Enjoy a Great Adventure

Across the region, adventure activities run throughout the year, offering expert guidance to help you safely experience the outdoors. From treetop adventures to white water rafting, there’s plenty to choose from. Bus services are available to Whinlatter Forest, where you’ll find accessible paths; a Go Ape treetop course; and bike hire.

Whinlatter forest

6. Experience the luxury of our dark skies

Did you know? Cumbria has some of the darkest skies in the country – and there are plenty of great places to stay if you’re looking to experience all they have to offer. Whether it’s a luxury hotel, a glamping pod, a self-catering cottage with hot tub from which to admire the stars, or a shepherd’s hut with stargazing roof, there’s plenty of choice – and bus services to transport you right to the door.

There’s also the Dark Skies Festival between 28 October – 18 November, packed with events like photography workshops, starlit swims and more.

Dark Skies Cumbria

7. Head to a unique event

Autumn sees a whole host of unique events take place here in the Lake District, Cumbria. On the 28th October, the vibrant Winter Droving Festival takes place in Penrith. This celebration of rural life features food, music, family entertainment and a fire and lantern parade through the town centre. Arrive in Penrith by train with Avanti West Coast; for accommodation, the North Lakes Hotel & Spa is a 5 minute walk from the railway station; as is the Blue Swallow Guest House.

Winter Droving Penirth

8. Enjoy a night at the Theatre

Fancy taking in a show? There are local theatres putting on a great range of performances for all ages to enjoy, including Brewery Arts in Kendal; The Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness; and Theatre by the Lake in Keswick – all reachable by bus. There are also independent cinemas like Rheged, Zeffirellis and the Alhambra Cinema in which to catch arthouse classics and the latest releases.

Brewery Arts

If you've been inspired to go #CarFreeFor23 and visit the Lake District, Cumbria by train and bus this autumn, we've got plenty of tips and inspiration to get you started. Check out our itineraries, find great places to stay, and plan your trip here.

Avanti Stagecoach




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